Candidates for Ketchikan Gateway Borough mayor participated in a candidate forum Monday on KRBD.
The borough’s budget and school funding were two big topics. One of the questions was what areas of the budget are expendable and could be cut if needed.
Here’s former Borough Assembly Member David Landis, who says the biggest cost should be looked at, to determine whether savings are possible.
“As a manager of business, if you have a shortfall, what you immediately start looking at is labor costs,” he said. “I think that right off the bat, that all of the departments of the borough should be examined for any excessive labor costs. If you can do more with less, I think that’s a discussion that should be had.”
Trevor Shaw, a current School Board member, disagrees. He says he prefers to cut stuff before cutting staff. And Lewis Armey Jr. says the borough should insist that contractors perform within the scope of a contract, rather than allowing cost overruns.
Armey stressed the need to fund education, and says that would be his primary focus, if elected.
“Why does the schools have to fight for funds? Education is the basis of a community,” he said. “Trevor (Shaw) mentioned something about veto powers. I agree with him. If you’re not going to fund the schools, expect that ink pen to fly.”
The ability to veto legislation that has been approved by the Assembly is one of the few real powers that the borough mayor has. Trevor Shaw has said that is a power he would not be shy to wield.
Shaw and Landis also stressed education, and say they want to provide as much funding for the schools as possible.
Another issue that tends to come up every year is the relationship between the borough and city, and between the borough and School Board. All three candidates agreed that the best way to improve those relationships is to start talking.
Shaw says lack of communication is the biggest problem.
“I think often the angst between the bodies is caused not necessarily by the actions that each body takes, but the lack of communication, and in failing to inform the other elected officials of what’s going on,” he said. “We’ve seen that with the library, issues between the City Council and Borough Assembly; and education funding when it comes to the Borough Assembly and the School Board.”
Landis says individual elected officials should get to know each other better one-on-one. And Armey suggests that the elected bodies have lunch on a monthly basis.
The borough mayor candidates also talked about consolidation, and how it’s up to the citizens if they want to give it another try; and how mining appears to be the next big thing for the local economy.
To hear the entire one-hour forum, click the audio below.